Hershey Public Schools is excited to announce the introduction of a Transitional Kindergarten class, aimed at providing an additional year of early childhood education for students who may benefit from further development before entering traditional kindergarten. This full-day program is designed to meet children where they are academically, socially, and in terms of age and maturity level.

Program Details

  • Objective: To offer an opportunity for children to thrive in an environment tailored to their developmental needs before transitioning to traditional kindergarten.

  • Duration: Full-day program, similar to kindergarten.

  • Academic Approach: Focus on play-based learning to foster social and emotional development while introducing kindergarten standards in shorter, smaller chunks of instruction than traditional Kindergarten.

  • Class Size: Anticipated to accommodate 10-12 students, ensuring a favorable ratio for one-on-one interactions.

  • Curriculum: Incorporating kindergarten standards through play-based activities and interactions.

  • Inclusions: Lunch, recess, and activities such as music, physical education, and art will be included into this full day program.


  • Teacher Recommendation

  • Birthdate Cutoff: Students with birthdays after January of 2019 are eligible for the Junior Kindergarten program.

  • Number of Eligible Students: Approximately 22 students are eligible for enrollment in the new program.

Benefits of Junior Kindergarten

  • Tailored Development: Opportunity to meet each child at their individual developmental level.

  • Preparation: Smooth transition to traditional kindergarten with exposure to kindergarten standards.

  • Social and Emotional Growth: Learn how to interact positively with peers.

  • Play-Based Learning: Emphasis on hands-on activities and exploration. 

  • Personalized Attention: Small class size allows for more individualized attention and support.

Further Supported Research

Transitional kindergarten programs, such as the Junior Kindergarten program being implemented at Hershey Public Schools, are supported by a body of research indicating their benefits for children's development. 

Here are some key points supported by research:

  • Cognitive Development: Studies have shown that children who participate in transitional kindergarten programs demonstrate improved cognitive skills, including language development, early literacy, and numeracy skills. Exposure to a structured learning environment at an appropriate developmental level can enhance cognitive readiness for formal schooling.

  • Social and Emotional Development: Transitional kindergarten provides children with opportunities to develop social skills, emotional regulation, and self-confidence in a supportive setting. Research suggests that programs emphasizing play-based learning and social interaction contribute to positive social-emotional outcomes, including better peer relationships and reduced behavioral issues.

  • Long-Term Academic Success: Research indicates that children who attend transitional kindergarten are more likely to experience academic success in later grades. By providing an additional year to develop foundational skills and readiness for kindergarten, children are better equipped to meet the academic expectations of formal schooling and achieve educational milestones.

  • Reducing Achievement Gaps: Transitional kindergarten programs have been shown to help narrow achievement gaps among children from backgrounds. By offering an additional year of preparation for children who may benefit from it, these programs promote equity in access to quality early education and support all children in reaching their full potential.

  • Individualized Support: Transitional kindergarten allows for a more individualized approach to learning, accommodating the varying developmental needs of children. Research suggests that small class sizes and personalized attention facilitate greater engagement, learning, and skill development among students.

  • Smooth Transition to Kindergarten: By providing a bridge between preschool and traditional kindergarten, transitional kindergarten programs ease the transition for children and families. Research highlights the importance of a gradual transition process, allowing children to adjust to the routines and expectations of formal schooling at their own pace.

Overall, research supports the implementation of transitional kindergarten programs as effective interventions to promote children's holistic development, prepare them for academic success, and foster a smooth transition to kindergarten and beyond. These programs offer valuable opportunities for children to thrive and reach their full potential in their educational journey.

Next Steps

We’d love to see you at our upcoming informational meeting on Monday, May 6, 2024 at 5:30 PM in the Collaboration Space at Hershey Public Schools.  

Information Meeting: We invite parents to attend an informational meeting to learn more about the Transitional Kindergarten program and determine if it would benefit their child.

  • Contact: For further inquiries or to express interest in the program, please contact Elementary Principal, Jared Thomsen

At Hershey Public Schools, we are committed to providing every student with the support and resources they need to succeed. We believe that the Transitional Kindergarten program will be a valuable addition to our offerings, ensuring that every child has the opportunity to thrive in their educational journey


Jared Thomsen

Elementary Principal

(308) 368-5572


Empowering All Students to Reach Their Full Potential.

“Learn, Grow, Thrive - Hershey Public Schools”